Knock Shrine is one of Europe’s major Marian Shrines, it has a remote location situated amongst boglands and wilderness, in the eastern part of County Mayo, in the west of Ireland. With no real scenery or other attractions close by it draws around one and a half million visitors each year, both those who are religious and those who are curious. Sitting amongst one hundred acres of pretty landscaped gardens, are five churches, a museum, cafe, a religious books’ centre and camping park.
On the 21st August 1879 this small village of Knock was to change forever, during the evening a group of fifteen people, varying in age, from young to old, witnessed an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist, at the south gable of the local parish church. They are also said to have seen a cross, a lamb and some angels. They watched and recited the rosary in the pouring rain for two hours. After taking testimonies and verifying witness statements it was established by the clergy that it was an apparition, This quickly established the area as a major pilgrimage site for mainly Irish Catholics. However, in 1979, at the centenary of the apparition Pope John Paul II made a visit to the site, saying it was the highlight of his visit. This resulted in Knock Shrine becoming a major pilgrimage site worldwide. Mother Theresa visited in 1993.
There are a number of main places of interest for visitors, being the original Church of Saint John the Baptist, the wall where the apparition appeared is now preserved under glass and has an artistic interpretation of the apparition. It is still used as the local parish church. Then there is the beautiful Our Lady of Knock, Queen Island which is a modern building that seats about 10,000, it is located close to the old church and dominates the area. The Chapel of Reconciliation is another modern structure but, is subterranean and has a large quantity of confessionals and a striking altar background. Knock Museum is an intimate space that depicts rural life in 1879 and the actual apparition. The Old Cemetery contains the graves of the witnesses.
A pilgrimage to Knock takes devotees through a journey of the basic elements of their faith. It offers a place to pray, relax and an opportunity to find peace. For many who come it is a special place.
The Pilgrimage Season at Knock runs from April to October each year, with daily mases and confessions. Mass is at the heart of the devotions at Knock. At times it is celebrated in full glory in the Basilica, more often in one of the chapels. Pilgrims particularly enjoy the mass at Knock. Other services here include organised pilgrimages, confessions, anointing of the sick and prayer guidance.
The Knock Novena runs from 14 – 22 August annually.